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Studio: Image Entertainment
Year: 2008
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Derek Jacobi, Ayelet Zurer, Moritz Bleibtreu
Director: Paul Schrader
Release Date: September 28, 2009, 5:55 pm
Rating: R for (some disturbing behavior, sexuality, nudity, and some language)
Run Time: 01h:46m:30s

ìMaybe in 100 years weíll know how to help the Adam Steins of this world?î - Dr. Nathan Gross (Derek Jacobi)

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This is yet another World War II filme concentrating on the Holocaust, but it's led by a powerful cast and director that give me high hopes for the project.

Movie Grade: C-

DVD Grade: B

It seems like only yesterday that Steven Spielberg released what many believe to be the seminal film about the Holocaust, 1993ís Schindlerís List. While many consider it Spielbergís masterpiece, another faction of film buffs are responsible for a sort of backlash towards the film, as it almost single-handedly opened the flood gates for less effective films about one of the worst crimes in history. The latest of these projects is definitely one of the most original. The only problem is, the line between an original film and an over-the-top mess is a fine one. Itís a line that 2008ís Adam Resurrected walks for the first half of its running time, but thanks to mediocre efforts from director Paul Schrader (Light Sleeper, American Gigolo) and the usually reliable Jeff Goldblum (The Fly), it veers off to the over-the-top mess side soon after.

Goldblum is Adam Stein, a Jewish performer who specializes in magic and knife-throwing. Unfortunately, Adam is performing during World War II in Germany and it isnít long before heís taken to a concentration camp along with his family. Flash-forward to the 1960s and Adam is being taken to a mental hospital in the middle of the Negev Desert that is populated by fellow camp survivors. Adam has been to the hospital before, where he is seen as a leader by his fellow survivors. He also basically has the run of the place, thanks to favoritism from Dr. Gross (Derek Jacobi) and head nurse, Gina Grey (Ayelet Zurer), whom heís also sleeping with. Still, his cocky nature at the hospital canít hide plenty of inner demons and guilt about his interactions at the camp, where interactions with his captor, Commandant Klein (Willem Dafoe), resulted in sacrifices that will haunt him forever.

The experience of watching Adam Resurrected is akin to watching a train wreck. Throughout most the film I kept wondering how I could be watching what seemed like a total mess, yet, the entire time I couldnít turn my eyes away from the screen. Perhaps I was waiting for the other shoe to drop on a major plot twist, where Iíd discover that Adam really isnít in this mental hospital or he was never in a concentration camp. Then again, perhaps Iíve watched too many M. Night Shyamalan movies, and expect such twists more often than I should. Thatís not to say director Schrader doesnít have a few tricks up his sleeve, but what weíre left with at the end is a rather straight- forward tale that could have been much, much more.

The film is quite harrowing at times. It does center on criminally insane Holocaust survivors, after all. One scene in particular involving a suicidal man recounting the fate of his daughter to Adam is difficult to sit through and is quite sad. Unfortunately, this sequence is surrounded by a story that struggles to find its way throughout most of the 106 minutes. Speaking of struggles, to say that Jeff Goldblum doesnít do a German accent very well is the understatement of the year! Thereís rarely an instance where Goldblum holds his accent for more than a minute, but overall heís just not right as Adam Stein, overacting at the inopportune times. Really, the only actor doing solid work here is Dafoe, but he canít do enough to elevate the film to a better level.

Imageís Blu-ray disc is a solid effort, excelling the video department, and delivering a nice, yet not extremely active DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. There are some extras too, including an audio commentary with director Paul Schrader and nearly 10-minutes of deleted scenes that offer some extremely interesting story ideas questionably cut from the finished film.

Chuck Aliaga September 28, 2009, 5:55 pm